Friday, 25 March 2011

Bike Porn Friday: Getting Jiggly

While Dr Doug is working on the punchline, and Hudson Bay is coming up with further nicknames (so far we've had the Flying Bogey [one assumes this isn't to do with rolling stock], and the topical Fuel Rod), here's a picture of a Croissant Maker, aka the Condor Bikes Jig. Or Rig.
Whichever, you sit on it, after a bit of cold reading from the boulanger, a reading which had me down as a Squada campag Centuar riding fellow. Am I that obvious?
While I was recovering from my lack of individuality, Doug was asserting his, by selecting a rather brilliant (both senses) keylime pie to add to the shopping basket. I did my bit by suggested that they might have some older (e.g., cheaper, possibly better quality) Centaur lying around the place.
Then Doug was measured on the rig. Or jig. Inner legs were taken. Fore and aft assertained. Stem height contemplated. Finally, it was all noted and recorded. All that was left were some pedals, the seat (Arione: it sells itself!), and, yes, some keyline pie bar tape.
Terrified at the thoughts of the sprints series being dominated by Fuel Rod, and seeking solace, I took to Regent's Park last night as some sort of firewall. The highlight was leading an Embrocation-based chain gang around the west corner. Chicken to the last, I peeled of a Hudson corner, and headed to the inner loop.
Finally, here's to the GB women's track team!
Trois V!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

A Joke

Two doctors walk into a bike shop...

...punchline to follow.

[Or, in the spirit of "Jeopardy!": When Doug and Matt walked into Condor Cycles, Doug left this much poorer, but the owner of this.]


Not particularly relevant, but whatever:


Saturday, 19 March 2011

Epping Dupe!

With Jon called in to work on the weekend and Jono (the club mascot's etc. etc.) in Southampton, it was up to Doctors Matt and Doug to undertake the Epping Loop today. In fact, Matt and Doug always end up riding this route without anybody else, for some reason. What's wrong, everybody?

Anyway, the weather caused a certain amount of sartorial consternation: the temperature was predicted to be 12 Celsius/Centigrade, which is a lot warmer than it has been... but how much warmer? Doug went for Mourinho baselayer and Mourinho jersey, and busted out the three-quarter length bib shorts (capri pants) to "show a little shin." Doug also wore long fingered summer gloves. Matt, on the other hand, went wool cap, full-length bibs, base layer, winter jersey, winter gloves. Let the record show that Doug made the better clothing decision.

It was sunny! It was virtually windless! We got all the green lights heading out of London, until the point that Doug remarked that this had been the case, after which we sat at red for every single traffic light the rest of the way. We sped into the countryside. There was some sort of sportive on this weekend, so we passed a big Evans Cycles repair wagon, and, riding in the opposite direction, lots of cyclists. A significant number of "good mornings" were exchanged. We discussed potential nicknames for Jon, who seems to be very good at doling them out for other people. After a minor wrong turn (perhaps if Hudson Bay was with us, this would not have happened), we took the long and less steep way up Toot Hill, then barreled over the rolling section thereafter ("this is like the 'easy' sections of the Puncheur," Doug remarked). On into Epping and the first testing climb of the day. "Ten points," Matt declared, and took off. Doug sat on his wheel. Matt jumped out of the saddle and cranked upwards. Doug remained seated. Just after the tube station, Doug passed Matt, and continued on. Doug looked on the ground for Matt's shadow, but didn't see it, so Doug looked over Doug's shoulder and still didn't see him. Doug craned Doug's neck further and there was Matt, way back there! I won! I won! Ten points! This is a significant event. I've never beaten Matt going up this climb. Hooray!

One of the chief joys of the Epping Loop is the section from Epping to our "feed station," which is actually a newsagent about 2/3 of the way through the route. The stretch of road is rolling, with a lot of speedy sections, views of farmland, and offers the opportunity to put your foot down and crank along and try to get in "the zone." This we did. Then, passing through a lightly wooded section, where the road is a bit narrow and curves around, [redacted]. We trundled for a couple of kilometers, more or less until "the weird bridge," which is also labeled by the Highway Authority as "Weak Bridge." We picked it up after that, but the legs weren't responding quite as well any longer, the adrenaline spike and dissipation having sapped a lot of my energy.

After a brief pause at the feed station to stock up on liquids, we pushed ahead to the last two climbs of the day, Robin's Nest Hill and Judges Hill. Most of the way up Robin's Nest and a couple of old guys strolling down offered some friendly banter and advised us to stop at the pub at the top, but we soldiered on, and into Potters Bar, where the train pulled into the station only a minute or two after we arrived on the platform. We reached the conclusion that yes, this is the way to ride the Epping Loop, rather than fighting the Saturday traffic all the way back to and through London, giving us the chance to watch Matt Goss storm the sprint in the Milan San Remo.

Stats: 27 kph average (to the nearest whole number...), a touch under 100k.

A sign posted outside The Farmer's Boy in Brickendon advertised tonight's live music as Neil Diamond, scuppering my plans of posting Bikini Kill as the song for this post.


Friday, 18 March 2011

BPF: Tristesse Endura for Japan

We only rode a bit of the way from Swansea to the Japanese Embassy (and we did it in reverse, with gears, and lots of cooked breakfasts), so we are rather in awe of today's BPF: Charity Ride from Swansea to London for Japan, to which Rollapaluza alerted us. There are many ways to donate to help assuage the suffering in Japan, but this may be one worth considering. And the poster above is absolutely worth of BPF.

We are also aware of the ride organised by our favourite/most-teased embrocation purveyor, which takes place on Sunday in London, and all over the joint in Japan, N. America and elsewhere.
This said, we also have in mind the points that Pedal Strike makes about 'empathy and earthquakes'. Have a good weekend. We shall be riding the Epping Loop.
Trois V!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

The Wheel of Time is Turning

So I didn't have quite as marvellous a time on the Puncheur as the flying doctors, but I (a) at least got most of the way round (b) enjoyed the SAG wagon driving along next to me for a few minutes while I talked to the driver, so that I got to feel like a pro, and (c) benefitted from certain areas of my body not feeling any pain at all, unlike most of the rest of my body.

The only problem was that these parts of my body had evolved to be extra specially sensitive, so a near complete lack of feeling in them was a troubling matter, especially when it took the best part of a day to dissipate.

Clearly something had to be done, and as we all know the solution to all of life's problems is to go shopping. So Monday evening found me perched on the stairs at the Spitalfields branch of Cycle Surgery, sitting on a foam pad which, it was promised, would measure the width of my sit bones and tell me which Specialized saddle I should buy. To the astonishment of everyone who knows me, the foam pad told me that I needed the middle width saddle, not the widest, and so, remembering the LCC discount, I purchased a brand new Specialized Romin saddle, with the promise of maximal blood flow.

However, I'm a poor scientist, and instead of changing just one variable, I decided to change two, and bought some new cycling boxer shorts. These are basically normal boxer shorts with a small and snazzy looking chamois pad in them, to prevent it looking like one is wearing a nappy under one's jeans.

With both saddle and pants installed, I needed to go for a test ride, and so I took advantage of the Club Mascot's trip to see the Club Mascot's Mum's Mum & Dad in the Western Colonies to go for a night ride in the City. I set out after dark to try and avoid traffic, but for some reason there were lots of angry bus drivers around, so I ducked around the Ripperesque back streets, being a bit of a scofflaw on some bits that may or may not have been pedestrianised, and finding enough cobbled sections that it was something of a Ronde de EC2. I finished with a speedy blast down the Pentonville Road, and home to find that the double-sighted experiment was a success, and everything felt as it should.

Riding at night is great fun, and as you'll see in this video interview with the almighty Jens, it's the thing that fathers do. Keep watching the video, it's great as all things Jens are, and if you didn't have an opinion on the race radio ban before, you will now.

You're against it.


Saturday, 12 March 2011

A Springtime Saturday Ride, Plus: The Pastry Is Right!

With Jon recovering from Emran-related injury, it was up to the Doctors to fly the flag and climb the hills for the TroisV this morning. The weather was beautiful--warmish, sunny, almost no wind--which made sartorial choices difficult to make... but I'm pleased to report that the winter jerseys were left at home, jackets were pocketed, light gloves were worn. Lots of passive tense things happened, in the clothing sense. What the hell am I talking about?

Anyway, two laps of Regent's Park saw the most lackluster edition of the RP Sprint Series yet held. I mean, really pathetic. But anyway, there was lots of chatter and we decided to head up a hill--but not the same old hills we usually do. We rode up West Highgate Hill, via the "quieter route" signposted in blue. This entails tracing the boundary of Hampstead Heath and going down a private road that isn't really a private road, and which, on the first lap (yes! We did it twice!) was swarming with posh walkers loping downhill, walkers who saw no reason to give an inch, or even half or a quarter of an inch, to cyclists climbing the steep kick at the top. While climbing this route, with its steady but not all that steep (until the end) climb, its curves, its big houses, its trees and its heath, one can pretend that one is riding through an Alpine village--and so the route has been christened "Alpine Village".

So yes, we rode up via Spaniards and down along the far side of the Heath, then back along Gospel Oak for a second climb, after which we sped toward Look Mum No Hands!, where we drank too much coffee, but sat outside, and were complimented on our Look Mum No Hands! caps by the owner of Look Mum No Hands!

A discussion paper was handed around ("around": Doug showed Matt); Doug has been spending his procrastinating moments on the Condor Cycles website, plugging stuff into the bike builder in anticipation of buying a new, zippier, expensiver bike. The decision was all but made to go for a Classico. We were ready to head off to Condor and maybe even make a downpayment. Then Farid showed up, and "threw a spanner in the works." First, he offered his BMC for sale. Next, he accompanied us to Condor, took a look at the bikes, asked me some pertinent questions, and told me I didn't want a Classico. Then, he told me to take a zip around the block on his titanium bicycle, the make of which I've entirely forgotten [Enigma - Ed.]. It was zippy. Matt and I returned to Condor, and decided I want a Squadra. More thinking will be done.

So, The Pastry Is Right!

In a weird inverse of the usual, today a TroisV member entered Condor Cycles ready to part ways with a small fortune, and walked out having spent considerably less. The following purchases were made:

1 Combiflex 70 cable lock

1 pair of tire levers

1 derailleur cable

But how much did all of that cost? Keeping in mind the 10% LCC discount.

On the way home, Matt blasted through a pothole on York Way, blowing his rear tire spectacularly, and performed an admirably quick tire change.


Playing in Condor as we were leaving:

Friday, 11 March 2011

Bike Porn Friday: Dead Animals and Birthday Bikes.

So excited were we last week about the approach of the Puncheur that we neglected to post some bike porn for you, Mom. Our penance, as Jono has already noted in the comments of the Puncheur writeup, was to witness the feathery murder of a pigeon by a train while waiting for our return trip to London on Sunday:

Here it is closer up:

Its heart was still beating when the photos were taken. Grizzly! Gruesome! Gross!

The bicycle drawing at the top is the front of the birthday card that my mommy and daddy (or, as Jon would have it: "the mother and father of the club member of the father of the club mascot") gave me for my birthday; hot on the heels of my birthday was that of Dr. Matt, who had to abstain from alcohol (and took his sweetheart to Pizza Hut) on his birthday, because it was the day before the Puncheur/bird-slaying.

Anyway, the important thing here is:


Monday, 7 March 2011

Puncheur: Been there, done that, neglected to purchase the t-shirt.

After months of non-training, the Puncheur was finally upon us Sunday. We rose early, took a bad route to London Bridge Station (Jon blamed this), met the Club Mascot's Mum's Brother (who got a ride from his wife at 5:45am; chapeau) and took the train out to Hassocks. Leaving the station for Ditchling and the rugby club that served as Puncheur HQ, the Club Mascot's Mum's Brother's chain jumped off, which set a certain trend for the rest of the day.

The HQ was stocked with coffee, tea, dried mangoes (delicious!), various types of bars and sign-in sheets and the tags for the checkpoints. We didn't dally for too long, and were on the road at about 8:40 am, rolling gently up and down in good spirits, though Doug seemed to have problems understanding the "let's all ride together" part of things.

Doug then suggested that we regroup at the crest or on the descent of the hills. A fine plan in principle, especially as the Puncheur was billed as a gently rolling route at most (Ditchling Beacon excepted). However, it roiled rather than rolled, and regroups were rare. It looked like Jon began to feel the pace a little, and Dr Matt's chain started to jump off, like the hind of a deer, with alarming regularity: he began to regret leaving the reliable Croissant in the stable.

Nonetheless, we passed as much as we were passed, notably by a few well-disciplined chain gangs. And the route was good. Cold, but scenic.

After about an hour Doug and Matt realised that they had pulled away. The Club Mascot's Mum's Brother and Jon were the first stage of the three part Ditchling rocket that was team Trois V. We thought about regrouping at the feed station, but after avoiding being recruited to planet Thetan, we wolfed down a Swiss Roll, Brownie and banana (more a patisserie than a feed station: take note, Tour of Wessex - only a Lemon Drizzle Cake can save you now), and headed off.

A sugar rush set in, and although we had given up any idea of a bronze placing, we began to wonder. Could we? Might we? Should we? We picked up the pace a little, and snuck in with a couple of clearly stronger riders.

Then we began to notice the waifs and strays. Riders sat on benches staring into space. Holding bits of their bikes. Eating gels mournfully. Calling help on mobile phones.

We had entered the zone that every long ride has. The non-comfort zone.

Still, we pressed on, and nudged 65kph on a descent, followed by 8kph on yet another steep ascent. Slowly, slowly, the Beacon crept near. Was it 30 minutes away, or forty? We took a call of nature to ponder. Doug concluded it was out of grasp. Matt began to wonder. Could it be done for the Trois V? He dug deep. He went from group to group, into the wind. Could he do it? Two sets of traffic lights suggested not. But he was still pushing on. Finally, the hill was in sight. 20 minutes according to his odometer. Then, at the base, the realisation: the odometer stopped during stops. Swiss rolls, jumped chains, and a call of nature had stolen the vital seconds. A psychological nadir was reached at the foot of the first turn. All that was left was to work my way up, and swipe my timer medallion, knowing I was 7 minutes outside the time. I had failed the Trois V.

There was nothing for it, but to buy a Mr Whippy.

Meanwhile, Dr. Doug was heeding the advice of Jens a few minutes back, and garbage-trucking all my remaining gels, energy bars and powershots. Riding into the wind with nothing left is no fun, but then I saw the sign: Beacon 1 Mile, and thought, well, at least I'm going to make it.

Let us now understand Ditchling Beacon: there are basically four stages; it rises up steeply around a bend into the woods, flattens out, steepens again and curves out for a great view of the downs, then flattens out, then steepens and curves back into the woods, then flattens and then steepens and bends back outward for a great view to the summit.

On the second of these steepening sections, my hamstring cramped. I did not leave it at "Shut up, legs," but rather, unleashed a torrent of abuse on my hamstring, sucked down the last drops of energy drink, and kept climbing, massaging my hamstring, hurling abuse, and trying to enjoy the view. I'd be damned if I was going to walk my bike up the hill at this point. Especially because I knew there were pro photographers taking pictures up there. Anyway, I made it. I tried to look straight at the camera. I tried to close my mouth so I looked calm and steely, but my nose was so clogged with snot I ended up holding my breath as I hit the peak. But I look good in the photos, damnit.

And right after I swiped my timing medallion, I heard my name, looked over, and saw Dr. Matt clutching two Mr Whippy cones.